February coming to an end means my birthday is just around the corner!! I’m so excited for my birthday this year. Last year my bday was kinda crappy. I was by myself during the day and Baby T screamed all. day. long. I ate a frozen burrito by myself while Mr. J took the babe off my hands at night. That wasn’t our easiest time and everything got better a few weeks later. I did have a fun & festive fam bday last year that was graciously brought to my house. Anywho, I’m living the dream now so bring it on!
Mr. J and I went to fancy-pants brunch for Valentine’s Day at Aquitaine which was so lovely and I also surprised him with a date night to Pastoral this month.
I was quite into the pressure cooker this month! #obsessed I made lentils with carrots and spinach that was a really ideal base to get topped with a quickly seared chicken sausage. That is a perfect weeknight dinner! Then I made a show-stopping Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic & Cherries.
With a few little snow-storms and then random warm (aka 50-degree days in February) there was quite the mix. One warm day we made some burgers that I still wanted to seem like winter burgers. I topped them with dried cranberries and topped with brie and lemon aioli. Ooo la la!
I fell off the savory-breakfast bandwagon but made little puff pastry egg cups that were addicting!
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor I was treated by an awesome Etsy shop Urban Fringe Living to a Valentine’s Day sign! I am so in LOVE.
do something a different way: I’ve tried alternative routes from work to see what is fastest to get to daycare. I didn’t find a better one, but you never know until you try! Another “different” was picking up Mr. J at work to surprise him for a date-night! We had amazing pizzas at Pastoral and I loved every second.
drink more water: I’m doing well. I never seem to get above 50 oz, but that’s OK with me.
make more interesting side dishes: Ohh yeah. Caesar brussels sprouts for the win! These lentils with veggies were good too!
cook more soups & sauces: ehh. I missed this one this month.
watch more movies: This month Mr. J and I watched Tammy, Good Will Hunting, and Trainwreck
make working out a higher priority: I’m back into some classes at the gym. I went to a zumba class with a different instructor who was AH-mazing. I also joined some Fitbit challenges which got me moving more.
I should be a salesperson for pressure cookers. I am ready to get rid of the slow cooker and go all pressure cooker, all the time. I made a honey-garlic chicken crockpot thing a few weeks ago that really wasn’t very good. The leftovers were OK as tacos, but I wasn’t impressed. Why didn’t I make it in the pressure cooker?!?!? Anywho, pork tenderloin can be tough, dry, and flavorless. Enter the pressure cooker! 20 minutes and we had amazing and juicy pork that we all loved. The little one included! I was SUCH a proud Mama. Baby T ate pork, potato, and asparagus with us. My heart almost burst. On weeknights we don’t get to all eat dinner together. The babe eats the minute he and I get home and then we all sit together while Mr. J and I eat since he’s almost ready to sleep at that point.
2 cups broth (I used chicken & my fav is Better Than Bouillion, or swap the broth with red wine)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup frozen whole cherries
Sprinkle salt & pepper over the pork, on both sides.
(See below if you’re not using a pressure cooker) On the brown or sear setting on the pressure cooker, sear it on all sides for some brown coloring.
Add in the broth, vinegar, and cherries.
Set to high pressure for 15-20 minutes. (I cooked it for 20 minutes but a little less would have been OK too.)
Quick release the pressure, let sit for ~3 minutes, then slice.
Serve with lots of cherries or reduce some liquid for a sauce. Enjoy!
(If you’re not using a pressure cooker, brown the meat on all sides for 3-5 minutes. Then in an oven-safe dutch oven, bake for 30-35 minutes in a 350-degree preheated oven. Be sure the middle is cooked to at least 145-degrees. Use that meat thermometer!)
I can’t even tell you how juicy this pork is. The flavors are great. Tang from the vinegar with the gentle sweetness of the cherries was perfect. I referred to this pressure cooker pork with peach salsa for the timing. I kept going back for more cherries. I wanted a cherry with each bite! The leftovers were great too. The pork was buy one get one free so I’m thrilled that I have another in the freezer!
Some of my pizzas just can’t leave well enough alone with toppings that are really out there (uhh, like this one or this one). I haven’t made a traditional-ish pizza in such a while but this one was soooo good and the little touch of crunchy breadcrumbs became the best part. About a year ago Mr. J got a sausage & ricotta pizza from a place down the street. Since then, he hasn’t been able to have it since! They’ve been out of ricotta! Foiled! Making it at home was long overdue.
2 links Italian sausage
1-1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup ricotta
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp butter
1 tsp truffle oil
Preheat the oven and pizza stone if using one to 500-degrees.
Sear the sausages in a skillet over medium heat turning to cook through.
Spread the pizza dough out onto the pizza stone or pan and bake for about 10 minutes, until cooked a bit and beginning to brown. Then remove from the heat and cut into slices.
Top the dough with sauce, mozzarella, dollops of ricotta and slices of sausage.
Bake for 5 minutes until the cheese melts and ricotta warms through.
While pizza is baking, melt butter in a small skillet over medium low heat and add in the panko. Drizzle in the truffle oil and cook for 3-5 minutes to toast the breadcumbs lightly.
Remove pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the pizza.
Slice and enjoy!
The pizza itself was SO good. I used more dough than usual and cooked it a bit more to get it really crunchy. I really love the flavorful sausage with creamy ricotta. I feel like a Project Runway contestant saying my design needed hard and soft.
The truffle breadcrumbs MAKE this pizza from so one I liked to an amazing pizza. I’ve added truffle breadcrumbs to top pasta. Truffle breadcrumbs for everyone!
Warning: this is not the most photogenic dish I’ve ever made, but it was really too tasty not to share. You can’t miss with caramelized onions. Add fontina and I’m yours. I made this dip for the Superbowl and served it with some bread. My only thought was that half would probably have been plenty for two of us. Mr. J and I barely made a dent! It was pretty decadent but so perfect for a chilly winter night. Leftovers might be pretty good in a rockstar grilled cheese!
2 medium onions, chopped
1 pkg french onion dip
1/2 cup chicken/beef/vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine
6 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup shredded sharp white cheddar
1 cup gruyere cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
ground black pepper
In a heavy pan over low heat, caramelize the onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Stir regularly and be patient. Cook for about 30 minutes until they get soft, light brown, and sweet.
Bring to medium heat and add in the onion soup mix, broth, and wine. Stir well.
Bring to a low boil for about 5 minutes.
Add in cream cheese, sour cream, and stir until it is all melted and incorporated. Then add cheddar cheese just until melted and then put it all into a baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Shred gruyere onto the top and sprinkle thyme & pepper over the top.
Bake for 15-minutes, or until melted.
Serve with bread. Enjoy!
This was so good, and addicting. It was sort of a meal in itself with the bread. Mr. J made wings so we only made it so far with our sports-snacks.
My side dishes tend to be really supporting characters rather than the blog-worthy item. Until now! I saw a recipe for caesar green beans and thought it would be even better for brussels spouts since the leaves would hold the sauce so well.
2 cups brussels sprouts, shredded
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup creamy Caesar dressing
1 tsp grated Parmesan
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter while chopping the brussels sprouts.
Sear the brussels spouts to gently brown, stirring well. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium.
Add in the caesar dressing reducing the heat to low.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Sprinkle with Parmesan then serve & enjoy!
These were really addictive. We served them with some marinated grilled chicken.
We had some super warm days here in New England which seemed like perfect timing for a burger. This burger had dried cranberries mixed into it, brie on top, and a lemon-y aoli. Jazzing up the aoli or ketchup definitely makes a burger feel more special. Lemon pepper aoli spread is so easy and I used some leftovers for egg salad.
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbs mayo
1 tsp lemon juice
Mix together the ground meat, cranberries, garlic, and salt & pepper.
Then form into patties and grill until cooked through.
Mix together the mayo, lemon juice, and pepper.
When the burgers are mostly cooked, top with brie until melted.
Serve with some dijon mustard and lemon/pepper aoli.
These were great. I liked the chewy and tartness the cranberries added with the creamy brie. So good. The zing of the aoli kept it from being too rich. These were good burgers and seemingly appropriate for winter burgers!
I’m on a bfast quest for some weekly fun not sweet breakfasts. I used my all-time-fav freezer ingredient: creamed spinach! These breakfast cups are so flavorful, full of texture, and couldn’t be easier. Easy like 3 ingredients easy. Puff pastry, eggs, frozen creamed spinach. Easy peasy!
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
1 package creamed spinach
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Scramble eggs until cooked through, but not over cooked.
Warm the creamed spinach according to the package.
Roll the puff pastry out until even. Cut into 6 squares. Lay each square into a muffin tin.
Divide the egg into each cup, and spoon the spinach on top.
Pinch together opposite corners.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until puffed up and golden brown.
I was making them in advance so I took them out of the oven on the earlier side. I toasted them in the toaster oven for breakfast time. I loooved these guys. How cute are they? The creamed spinach was so perfect in these functioning as sauce. The puff pastry is crispy and buttery.
I had never cooked lentils before but this was the perfect dinner for winter-y comfort, a balanced dinner, and for speed! The lentils were so fast in the pressure cooker, or would be an easy one to prep the night before and the chicken sausage was fully cooked so they just needed a quick sear. Voila!
8 oz lentils
2 cups water (I used half water, half chicken stock)
2 cloves garlic
salt & pepper (I used Krazy Pepper)
2 small potatoes
2 cups fresh spinach
Chop the potatoes, carrots, and garlic. Add to a pressure cooker with the lentils, water, salt & pepper. (See below for stovetop directions)
Cook according to your machine. Mine cooked for 10 minutes.
Bring a skillet to medium heat and sear the sausage in a drizzle of olive oil.
When the lentils are cooked and tender to the bite, stir well. Add in a splash more water if most of the moisture has evaporated.
Add in the spinach and stir again just until it wilts from the heat.
Serve a scoop of the lentil & veggies onto the plate.
Slice the sausage and serve over the top.
For stovetop lentils:
Bring lentils & water to a boil in a heavy pot. Then reduce the heat to medium low for 20-30 minutes. Here’s a good lentil tutorial.
This hit the spot. It was so fast and was such a great side dish that got to be the star of the plate! The little one enjoyed the lentils and I have another stash for a rainy day. It made plenty for 2 of us to have for dinner, Mr. J to take for lunch, and for the little guy to have some the next night for dinner…so 4 servings.
Lentils are speedy in the pressure cooker but since they reheat well, if you’re making them on the stove: put the pot on the night before and store them in the fridge once they’ve cooked. Then you just warm them and add the spinach before serving. They don’t need a ton of stirring or babysitting so you can catch up on The Bachelor, or whatever you do before bed.